Author Topic: Work Weekends and volunteer labor  (Read 3811 times)

Gordon Cook

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Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« on: October 23, 2019, 10:47:12 AM »
The Mountain Extension thread has diverged into a discussion of track extension and next projects because the track laying is coming to an end for the foreseeable future.
This is touching on a bigger subject, hence I'm starting a new thread.
I think the reason that track laying has become synonymous with the work weekend is that it has been the focus for almost all of the museum's existence, and that the jobs involved can be done by most anyone. Basically we all become day laborers for a weekend, no skills required!
Building track is fun for volunteers because there is sense of doing it the old way, being useful, getting a workout, camaraderie, and tangible progress to celebrate.
In recent WW's, with the necessary automation of the rail and tie laying process, the number of hands required for that has shrunk, and the remaining tasks tend towards those jobs that require relevant skills or plain old heavy duty brawn like spiking.
This means that some folks may not be busy and feeling like they contributed. This problem will get worse as we finish up the mountain extension track by 2021.
I'm thinking that the board is aware of this and would welcome useful ideas on how to keep the work weekends busy, fun, and productive.
If you were at FWW what did you see and what would you suggest?



Gawdon

Rick Knight

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2019, 11:26:26 AM »
I am going to stick my neck out here as I am  not aware of what are the priorities for the Maintenance work, track work, construction work mentioned by Dana and Fred but I do think something the volunteers for FWW could sink there teeth into and provide great benefits is the engine house/roundhouse construction for the growing fleet of locomotives.

Bill Baskerville

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2019, 11:35:36 AM »
One of the real problems we have is maintaining the right of way which includes alignment and surfacing and of course the grass, plant and shrub trimming.  While not as sexy as lengthening the main line, it could be rewarding as it offers opportunities for working around the ballast trains and on the track.  Plus it needs to be done each year.
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Bill Piche

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2019, 11:41:14 AM »
I'd be more than fine doing tie changeouts on one of the next work weekends.
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Mike Fox

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2019, 02:19:16 PM »
Gordon has it correct. When the crane was created, the lack of help needed to lay rail got me thinking. And I did bring that up a time or 3. But it has worked out. Better than expected.

We need projects to keep everyone as occupied as they want to be. It takes a lot more planning for smaller projects to pull it off.
Mike
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Mike the Choochoo Nix

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2019, 02:36:12 PM »
Mike is right about the planning.  So projects that have been discussed that can be done with small crews a once, are weed and brush cutting, tie replacement and I would add painting. Can anyone think of others that can be led by one person leading a small crew? I think building is fine but the crews would have to be organized ahead of time to assure a proper mix of skills.
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Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2019, 02:53:08 PM »
One thing that we have purposely avoided is "Advance Sign Ups". This is how the Friends of the C&TS manage their equally impressive work sessions - anyone attending must sign up in advance for the crew and project that they want to work with. You can't just "show up" like we do. (Oh, and you have to pay to be a "volunteer".) If there is insufficient crew/interest before the signup deadline, the project doesn't happen.

There are definite advantages to this approach, but it would also require a bunch more coordination before the work weekend, including finding crew leaders, etc. I'm also not a fan of enforcing advance sign ups and not allowing walkup help. Those aspects are part of what make the WW&F Work Weekends so special and inviting for new volunteers.

FWW 2019 had one goal - lay track to 218. This had a few smaller sub-groups, but the entire crew was (more or less) assigned to that project (or to support it by running trains, cooking food, managing visitors, etc.) Spring 2020 will likely have a similar singular goal - ballast, line, tamp all that track. Unfortunately, tamping will be greatly constrained by the limitations of our current tamper. (The rumored acquisition of another tamper has apparently fallen through, by no fault of our own.)

After Spring 2020, we may be better served to try a more project-based approach.

Good discussion!
Ed Lecuyer
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Mike Fox

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2019, 03:15:15 PM »
Exactly Ed. We had smaller projects like the phone line, led by John McNamara. Flat 14 led by Zack. Lunch crew, led by Nancy, though I think all those ladies (and Ross) could have done any of it with no lead.

Just will take some planning. We have a great bunch of volunteers that like to ne kept busy.

Mike
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John Kokas

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2019, 09:55:23 PM »
If it hadn't been for max effort on track laying I can think of many projects that could have been done:  prep / paint / reassemble the trailer,  clean up and arrange the garage for winter storage and work, install the 2nd coal stove in the shop, finish the insulation in the shop, additional electric in the shop (Downey's were doing), etc. etc.  There is work to do that now the "regular" crew has to finish that could have been devoted to #10, coach #11, museum space construction, etc.  I'm all for expansion, but maybe we kind of pushed the limits of what can be done.  I like the idea of sign-ups where people of certain skills can be more useful, but also agree the need for general labor jobs for those who don't possess trade skills.  With that said, I still stand by my position that if any additional track expansion is done, the #1 priority should be the passing siding and road crossing at Cross Rd. to eliminate the switching issues at Sheepscot.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.   ::)
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ALAIN DELASSUS

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2019, 03:12:08 AM »
I fully second John. I'm only a faraway  onlooker but it seems to me that you have quite a lot of small odds and ends to do ,dare I say it, that have been recently listed by Ed and others that are sufficient to keep busy an army of voluntary high skilled workers or plain laborers  for years. Rebuilding #10 and track maintenance are part of them. The Frenchie two cent's worth.

Gordon Cook

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2019, 08:50:42 AM »
Sounds like smaller projects plus advanced signups and skill to project matching may be a good way to think about this going forward?
I would point out that we have advanced signups now for the train crews.  Same idea.
As Ed mentioned, we definitely would not want to require signing up ahead of time and can still be pretty flexible as walk ons, weather, or other events occur.
There may be a hidden benefit in that it may encourage more folks to show up if they know they will be useful. Especially if they do not want to swing a spike maul but are a machinist or carpenter.
But I think that knowing who is coming and what they can/want to do would ease the job of the organizers and ensure a good experience for all the volunteers.   
Gawdon

Wayne Laepple

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2019, 09:54:23 AM »
In my opinion, we should consider a work week sometime during the summer. Such a week would concentrate particularly on track maintenance when no trains are scheduled. Such things as tie replacement, spot lining and surfacing, joint tightening and so forth can be accomplished by small crews of five or six people and can be productive as long as it’s not necessary to “clear up” for trains. I think it would be reasonable to plan for the day to run from 8-3, with a break for lunch. Volunteers would be welcomed to participate for a day or two or the entire week. Other projects, such as sorting rail, cutting ties, brush and weed cutting, painting, and so on could also be taking place during the same week. And if the week was scheduled In the early part of the season, before the summer heat and higher motel rates, or in the fall right after the Fall Work weekend, there might be better participation. Another option might be right after the Annual Picnic, when folks have vacation plans.


Keith Taylor

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2019, 02:37:01 PM »

 Spring 2020 will likely have a similar singular goal - ballast, line, tamp all that track. Unfortunately, tamping will be greatly constrained by the limitations of our current tamper. (The rumored acquisition of another tamper has apparently fallen through, by no fault of our own.)





Folks talk about doing things in the historic fashion. When it comes to tamping you can always make up gangs of volunteers with track jacks and ballast forks. You don’t have to do ALL of the tamping with a machine.

Keith
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 10:03:25 AM by Keith Taylor »

Russ Nelson

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Re: Work Weekends and volunteer labor
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2019, 04:48:44 PM »
Folks talk about doing things in the historic fashion. When it comes to tamping you can always make up gangs of volunteers with track jacks and ballast forks. You don’t have to do ALL of the tamping with a machine.

Keith

I've done tamping by hand. It's very strenuous. There's a lot of tamping needed but as Ed pointed out, we only have one machine tamper. If we have a big crew, they should be put to work lining and then tamping to hold the lining. There will be a lot of standing around catching your breath.

I don't think we have enough bars to do mass hand tamping. I could bring my own, of course.